Just a quick reminder, the true home run champion hit his final home run on this day in 1976. While mainstream media can’t (or won’t) discredit Barry Bonds and his steroid induced “record,” I have no such issue.
From beneath a pile of hate mail, behind a curtain of racism, Hank Aaron quietly hit home run after home run. A soft-spoken man born in Mobile, Alabama, Hank Aaron was no stranger to hatred. From his time in the Negro League to minor league stints in the south, Hank Aaron shouldered the load and just kept hitting. He hit so well the Braves chose him to replace Bobby Thomson in 1954.
The rest as they say is history. Hammerin’ Hank broke Babe Ruth’s home run record on April 8, 1974. And in the midst of his take-down of the greatest record in sports history, he had to deal with letters like this one:
You are not goIng to break this record established by the great Babe Ruth if I can help it. Whites are far more superior than jungle bunnies. My gun is watching your black move.”
To say that Barry Bonds is the home run king is an insult and a disservice to a great man who battled racism on his way to the top. To say that Barry Bonds broke any record that the great Hank Aaron set is a blasphemous statement against baseball and history. An admission from Bonds is unnecessary to substantiate the claims of steroid use. He used, he knew, and he soiled the game.
On this day in history, remember Hank Aaron not just for his accomplishments on the field, but his bravery off. Celebrate then true home run champion for all he has done.
*Thanks to ESPN and Basball Almanac for information on the racism Aaron experienced